Let’s talk day care, child care, early childhood learning and child care innovation!
Day care is generally accepted as the concept of providing care for a child while the parents are at work. Child care, on the other hand, is conceptualized as care for the child if the work schedule or family needs demand extended or variable hours for that care. Then, of course, there are public, non-profit, for-profit, licensed and unlicensed choices.Add to that the programmes that simply offer supervision and those that provide early childhood learning experiences; some of significant quality and others that are dubious.
Comforting scenario for parents? I think not.
What about Innovation in child care? That’s another question!
Then, there was a complete restructuring introduced by Ontario’s Child Care Modernization Act, 2014. I laud this overt attempt to protect the safety and security our children in all forms of child care – except home child care. All our children deserve this protection! Clearly, the predictable result was an accompanying increase in operating costs to the licensed child care providers. These costs have in turn been passed on to the families in various forms of increased fees. Our child care system, not only in Ontario but in Canada is in crisis. It’s reported as the second highest family expense after housing!
Comforting scenario for parents? Again, I think not.
At Giles, we provide an enriched innovative child care setting from 7:30 to 6:00 under the governance of a licensed non-profit/charitable organization. Our families can expect to secure this seamless advantage beginning at 2-years old to the end of Grade 8. What sets us apart is the ongoing commitment to a carefully designed formative programme. It’s a conscious choice parents make as they consider their child’s long-term growth and development, family resources and location.
Comforting scenario for our parents? YES!
Family resources and location are a driving force in the choice of child care for parents. Quality is necessarily sacrificed for the former of the two. The billions committed by the federal government last June reinforces the options already in the market by providing more subsidized spaces but falls short of creating a more dense and diverse array of choices for families.
Let’s examine an area that seems to be the ‘black hole’ of child care services – the private unlicensed home-care setting where I believe the answer to our child care crisis can be found. Necessarily, parents need to be reassured that this is a safe and quality choice.
Keeping that in mind, here are some radical thoughts that would make the billions of committed federal and provincial dollars go well beyond the 40,000 or so newly created subsidized spaces.
- Identify a large number of ‘Centres of Excellence’ where the programme is licensed and exemplary.
- Fund a mentoring programme that would require independent home care providers to participate in a short-term preparation and coaching placement at one of these centres.
- Subsequently, require the participants to attend an annual update session and maintain an advisory role with the identified centre. Today’s technology would allow these sessions to take place from an online platform or in person. This would create a multiplier effect for each dollar spent and ultimately improve the quality of home care centres.
This is only a starting point, and I am sure that there is a multitude of other options to explore. At least, this would begin to address the questions of standards, quality and safety in home child care settings, as well as give home child care the legitimacy they deserve.
Comforting scenario for all parents? Yes!